You may find it hard to believe, but I talk about horror movies a lot. In addition to talking about horror at random, I also get lots of questions and comments about horror movies. Many people comment that they can't watch horror, since they get too scared. I've watched hundreds of horror flicks, and I no longer scare easily. Many people ask me what my favorite horror movie is. That question ends up being subjective, since my favorite horror movie is not necessarily the one that scared me the most. For the record, my favorite is The Devil's Rejects.
On some occasions, people ask me the last movie that scared me, especially hardened horror fans who haven't been scared in a while. Over the last few years, the same name has been coming up over and over again: Martyrs. When I first saw this movie, I had nightmares for weeks. It was several months before I could give it a second watch. It's been lingering in the back of my head lately, begging for another viewing, and I thought maybe another blog post could do it justice.
First off, watching this in French with the subtitles is the only way to do it. I love watching foreign movies, but I loathe watching them dubbed in English. In my opinion, it just takes away from the sincerity and emotion of the acting. The two stars of Martyrs, Morjana Alaoui (Anna) and Mylene Jampanoi (Lucie) were incredible. The roles took an almost endless amount of raw emotion, which they were able to deliver perfectly. Even the small parts are acting precisely, from the little kids in the orphanage to the teenage boy confronted at the breakfast table.
Their relationship dynamic is also so interesting. Anna clearly plays the mother role in childhood, and even coddles Lucie as an adult. Not only does she come rushing to her friend after she commits murder, but she cleans up the mess while Lucie naps.
The effects are amazing, even the little things, like the blood spattering the breakfast dishes. The creature/dead girl, the girl locked in the basement, the skinning....amazeballs. Where so many movies lately use jump scares to make viewers' hearts leap, Martyrs uses visceral scares that cut straight to your core.
Not everything about this movie is perfect. Like why does Anna sleep when she has a random dying girl in the tub? And the voice of Lucie that she hears in the basement borders on cheesy. And why do they bother to clean her, but never change her clothes? And the ending...it's a love it or hate it type of thing. What did Anna say to Madamemoiselle? What did "keep doubting" mean? The writer definitely meant for there to be questions left unanswered and room for interpretation.
Now here's a bonus question for people who have seen it. Is it at all possible that the girl in the basement with all the metal things is the girl that Lucie left in the beginning? This was my first inclination, but then I sort of figured that no one could have lived that long in those conditions.
So the moral of this story? If you've seen Martyrs, share your opinions in the comments. If you haven't seen it, definitely check it out. Multiple viewings have not changed my opinion that this is one of the most horrifying and visceral horror movies ever made.